6 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

...without affecting your milk supply.

Losing pregnancy weight and reclaiming your body is achievable.

Several months after my first born's arrival, I was told by a well-meaning relative that I should head out and purchase a new wardrobe. After all, she continued, you won’t ever fit back into your old jeans.

Although I’m not quite sure what I said in response, I definitely wondered, if I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to lose the weight, why was somebody else?

Perhaps you’ve heard that breastfeeding your baby will help you lose extra pregnancy weight. While this can be true for some women, weight loss while breastfeeding varies widely from one mama to the next. This is due, in part, to an increase in appetite that often accompanies breastfeeding.

While the last few stubborn pounds might hang around until your baby has weaned, I’m here to reassure you that, having breastfed each of my five children, losing pregnancy weight and reclaiming your body is achievable.

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Setting yourself up for healthy weight loss while breastfeeding is the key to future weight loss success. Here are six ways to shed the pounds while you nourish your baby. 

6 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

Healthy Choice #1 - Take Your Time

A friend of mine has often been heard saying, “It took nine months to grow that baby, so you have nine months (or more) of grace to give yourself.”

While you may not want to wait nine months before beginning to reign in your weight, there’s freedom in knowing that postpartum weight loss takes time.

So, when you’re beginning to feel frustrated that you don’t fit in your pre-pregnancy jeans, just take a breath. Choose to skip the pressure for quick weight loss, avoid images of the perfect post-baby body, and enjoy getting to know that new little life.

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Healthy Choice #2 - Eat Small, Frequent Meals

Instead of eating the traditional three square meals a day, you’ll want to embrace a more flexible meal schedule.

Plan to eat six small meals throughout the day, somewhat like you did in the end of your pregnancy (when there just wasn’t room for a full stomach).

Eating smaller meals isn’t licence for snacking all day or grabbing that bag of chips. Eat a healthy breakfast, plan when you’ll eat throughout the day, and decide not to snack after dinner time in the evening.

Healthy Choice #3 - Plan Healthy Choices

In the early days of breastfeeding when you’re tired and hungry (all the time), it’s difficult to make healthy eating choices.

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Nutrition matters when you’re breastfeeding. You’ll want to put real food in your body so it’s functioning at top-notch. Skip the pre-processed snacks and straight carbs that are so easy to grab when hungry.

Plan for success by stocking your fridge with quick and easy snack and meals.

Try to avoid simple carbs and look for complex carbs (like whole grains). These will help to curb your hunger and keep you fuller until the next meal time. You’ll also want to look for food rich in iron, Omega-3s, protein, and calcium as these nutrients are important for breastfeeding mamas.

Healthy Choice #4 - Skip Calorie Counting

While most weight loss regimens rely on some form of calorie counting, you’ll want to set aside your food log while breastfeeding.

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The amount of extra calories needed for breastfeeding varies from one women to the next; if you’re hungry, then you need to eat. You’ll just want to choose what you put into your body carefully. As a basic rule of thumb, focusing on more protein and less carbs will lead you on a healthier path.

Healthy Choice #5 - Drink Water

At times, a breastfeeding mama might feel hungry only to realize that the feeling of hungry is really dehydration in disguise.

Drinking water, especially while breastfeeding, is a healthy way to curb your appetite. Plan to drink at least six cups of water a day, one before each small meal. Drinking extra water can help your focus and make you feel better.

Healthy Choice #6 - Add in Exercise

In general, losing weight is about burning calories. While calorie-counting isn’t recommended while breastfeeding, adding in daily exercise is a great way to burn calories (and help lesson the symptoms of postpartum depression).

At your postpartum checkup, you’ll want to discuss when you can begin exercising. Most doctors recommend you wait 6-8 weeks before doing this.

Exercise will look different after baby. It might be as simple as putting baby in the stroller and taking a brisk walk. Or you can see what programs are offered at your local gym. Whatever you choose, adding in exercise is about adding in movement instead of staying sedentary.

Losing pregnancy weight isn’t about quick fixes. Healthy food choices, increasing your activity level, and drinking enough water are great ways to set yourself up for success even as you nourish your baby.

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.

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